I am… and always have been… a sucker for silly teen comedies. They tend to either revolve around a party that everyone has to get to (Superbad, Can’t Hardly Wait), sex (American Pie, Porky’s) or the latest trend… retell a classic piece of literature in a way that young kids won’t roll their eyes at because they don’t realise they are watching a classic (Clueless). This movie incorporates many of these tropes, but doesn’t bog down in any of them. Being raised in the age of John Hughes, we have a great appreciation for when someone gets it right… and simply put… Easy A gets it right on all counts.
There is no secret that this film readily acknowledges this fact by making direct reference to how Olive (the incomparable Emma Stone…. more on her later) wishes life could be more like a John Hughes movie, and name drops a good four or five Hughesian moments that anyone born after 1966 will immediately know. If this film is an homage to Mr. Hughes, than I wouldn’t be surprised if he would have been flattered… and like a good John Hughes film, two things they got very right were a great script and an amazing lead actress.
Emma Stone may very well be the finest young comedic actress we have in our midst. She first came to most of our attention in Superbad as Jonah Hill’s love interest… next in The House Bunny… and very recently in Zombieland. In all of those films she has stood out as not only beautiful… but genuinely hilarious and believable. This is the first film she completely carries on her back… and she succeeds beyond anyone expectations.
The movie opens with Olive speaking directly into a webcam in a confessional manner… so obviously we are getting the story from hindsight. In a nutshell, Olive lies to her friend that she lost her virginity (sex… trope 1)… gets a reputation immediately… a gay friend asks her help in making people think she shagged him at a huge party (there’s the big party scene… trope 2)… and her English class has been reading The Scarlet Letter so she sews a big A on her now slutty attire to make a point about who and what she is based on rumour and conjecture (sort of the classic literature trope… although, this is not a retelling… so kind of trope 3)… and to top it all off, other geeks and untouchables begin approaching her so that she will lie about hooking up with them as well and paying her off with gift cards. Perhaps you can see where much of this will go… but honestly, I was pleasantly surprised along the way and didn’t feel at all pandered to.
As I mentioned earlier… an amazingly smart script. Olive is intelligent, yet not overly stylized (see Juno), the characters are occasionally one dimensional but more often than not they are given some sort of development which they grow from and best of all are her parents. Played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson… Mrs. Blahg and I now have a template for parenting to go off of. Best. Parents. Ever. Yes they played it well, but without the script it could have fell flat. Instead we have great interaction between all principles and a story that does in fact keep you guessing.
There are other outstanding performances in this as well… Thomas Haden Church as her English teacher, Amanda Bynes as the over religious cheerleader and Lisa Kudrow as Church’s wife. And Malcolm McDowell even shows up!! An absolute pleasure from beginning to end. Buy it, rent it or stream it… just see this film.
Sewing a B on my shirt,
Cornelius J. Blahg